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Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince Movie Review

20 July 2009 13 Comments
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Harry Potter<br /> <h2>Half Blood Prince - Movie Review

Harry Potter (2009)

Primary Audience: Teens, Adults
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Length: 2 hr. 33 min.
Rated: PG

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Alan Rickman (Prof Severus Snape), Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis
Director: David Yates
Producer: Warner Bros. Pictures, Heyday Films
Writers: Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling

The Bulletpoint Movie Review: Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince

Pros:

  • Movie Making Quality – Best of the Series (Cinematography, Special Effects)
  • Enjoyable – One of the more enjoyable in the movie series.

Cons:

  • No Character Development
  • Plot Development Lacking
  • Teenage Love Drama – Half of the film was all about crushes and love triangles, while the actual plot development and character development was lacking. Bad Priorities.
  • Faithfulness to Book – Not very faithful to the book (large gaps and missing scenes)

Extras:

  • Very Dark Throughout– Not a film for the family. Kids would be scared out of their minds.
  • Underlying Messages – Teenage Love Drama is “cute” but sends way too many inappropriate messages to the youth culture.

Some Themes & Questions about Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince

Is Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince appropriate for young children and families?

The movie is very dark. From beginning to end there is a sense of somberness and a lack of hope that lingers throughout the film. When we think “PG” we think Pixar or Disney (ok maybe not Disney…). This is not a “fun movie” to take your family to. It is serious. Characters make bad decisions. People get killed. There is visible blood.

Without going into details, there is a pretty disturbing scene of girl being thrown around like a rag doll, a scene that seems to be straight out of exorcism. There is a scene where gollum like creatures in mass volumes are crawling towards one of the characters. Both scenes being way too much for children.

Then there is this huge theme of teenage love drama…

Is there really that much teen love drama as been rumored?

Yes. The movie might as well been called “Harry Potter and the non-stop teenage romance drama”. Even Dumbledore, who you would think is pre-occupred with the end of all that is good, starts asking Harry Potter about his romance life.

While the the theme of “Half Blood Prince” was barely mentioned, the theme of love, girlfriend/boyfriend, and kissing is prevalent throughout the film. More time was dedicated to this drama then the actual plot at hand! I can understand that teenagers are going through that time in their life where their hormones are shifting but so much of the movie is dedicated to this theme that the actual ingredients of what makes a good story is lost. Consider this:

What happened to the Strong Hermione?

Where was the character development? Plot Development?
Harry is the same guy beginning to end. Hermione who was so strong, independent and most sensible of the three regressed to a girl held captive by her emotions for Ron. Ron was rendered insignificant. We also never grow in our attachment to key characters like Albus Dumbledore. I enjoyed the scenes with Draco Malfoy and his emotions, but again this could have been developed much more, perhaps showing scenes of his actual struggle with what he is doing.

In the book we get a good amount of background on, Tom Riddle (aka Lord Voldemort), probably the most fascinating character in this particular book. In the movie we only get short flashbacks and we learn very little other than that Tom Riddle is one freaky child. There is so much that could have been done with this, but wasn’t. Rather it felt like a full 30 minutes was given to driving home the very obvious point that Lavender Brown was obsessed with Ron (I refuse to use the word “love” here, this is not love). A full 2 minutes is given to her drawing a heart shape on a foggy glass in front of Ron. Also is it really necessary to show them kissing so many times especially knowing how young the audience was going to be? How about a little more info about the Horcruxes?

The Youth Culture painted by Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter - Kiss with Ginny Weasley

  • Teenage Love theme heavily emphasized & romanticized
  • Teenagers shown kissing in dark secluded areas
  • Lavender Brown suggests to Ron Weasley that they find another private room..
  • Ron Weasley mentioned that his lips are chapped (from kissing too much)
  • Plenty of hand holding, going into secluded rooms as a pair.
  • Underage drinking

Most people (especially Harry Potter fans) might instinctively think that mentioning these scenes is a bit overboard. I don’t think so. It really isn’t the explicit, shocking scenes that impact our culture. It is the more subtle scenes that shape what we consider the norm.

Power of Images: The Painting of the Norm
If you saw someone getting brutally murdered, you know that is wrong. You see a guy punch another guy because he was talking to his girl? Not as clear. Seems a bit justified. If you see it numerous times, then it becomes a little more acceptable. All the teen love emphasis in this movie is no exception. You see two teenagers that like each other holding hands entering into a room together. Seems so harmless right? Imagine your daughter who likes some guy who wants to have some time together in a secluded room. In the moment of decision, all the images fed to her through the media tells her hey, its not abnormal, it’ll be ok.

Teenagers who perhaps wasn’t thinking too much about romance is shown a world where the crushes seem so cute. The idea of being with a guy or a girl seems so alluring. It influences people, who influence culture which then creates peer pressure and the ball just keeps on rolling. Let’s be frank, it’s not just teenagers, grown adults get influenced by these themes as well.

Appealing to Teenage Rebelliousness and Desire for Independence
One “image” painted in this series (as well as in most teenage centric books) is the image of the main protagonist. One thing that really concerns me is the fact that Harry Potter is a very rebellious character. He doesn’t listen to authority well. He does basically as his emotions lead him to (which is not good considering he has anger issues). He thinks very highly of himself, trying to tackle more than he can chew. Yet despite all his bad decisions and mistakes there is surprising very little consequences. He goes after guys more powerful but does not get killed. He nearly kills someone but there is no repercussions. Talk about the perfect world for teenage boy.

Another Quick Worldview Consideration: Cheating
Is it ok to cheat? Of course not, but did you notice Harry was cheating throughout the film secretly utilizing his special book to get to the top of the class? How about Hermione conveniently helping out Ron so he could become the quidditch goalie. We just laugh and never think about what worldview these scenes are painting.

Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince: Last Thoughts

Lest you think I don’t like the Harry Potter Series, I do. I think it’s entertaining and it has some good characters and messages. I just think the image that it paints is not very constructive to our teenage culture. What is worse is that it did it at the cost of plot and character development that was sorely needed. I understand the book itself was not very action packed as some of the rest of the series, but the movie was already a bit off of the original story so why not use that creative flexibility to develop the story more rather than dedicate literally half the movie on crushes, love potions, showing tense moments of teenagers kissing?

  • What did you think of the movie?
  • Did you think the plot & characters were developed enough?
  • What is your opinion about the heavy emphasis on teenage love?
  • Do you think movies like this affect our culture? Teenage Culture?

13 Comments »

  • Kelly said:

    Actually, there has been much heated debate amongst fans of the books and movies regarding this movie and the choices made with plot and character development. While I admittedly found the teenage crushes plotline highly amusing, as the review mentioned, the “love stories” (if we can call it that, it’s more like high school melodrama) overtook the character development of Voldemort/Tom Riddle. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is perhaps the only book in the series that contributes the most to Voldemort’s character development — his heritage, his childhood and teenage years — and JK Rowling paints a complex character through these investigations done by Harry. This type of development is absolutely important as a setup to the final movies. While I think the filmmakers knew how important this development was, they seemed to compress that to a few scenes while the love stories nearly made up a bulk of the movie.

    I think the plot was developed well enough to get an idea of what was going on — but that was it, just an idea. People who have never read the books may not fully understand the importance of the Horcruxes. Malfoy perhaps was the only character who had any real development happening (and thus was one of the most compelling characters in the film). If the filmmakers were so intent on focusing on the relationships of the movie (which may have been their purpose it seems considering the incredible focus on teenage love), perhaps they could have spent more time developing specific character traits of the main/supporting characters through dialogue instead of having blatantly awkward scenes. Instead, the script often demonstrated romance scenes (particularly the ones with Harry and Ginny) with spare dialogue that did little to develop deep character relationships and friendships.

    Don’t get me wrong — I enjoyed this movie immensely. The acting was superb by the entire cast, special effects/cinematography were wonderful, and I liked how this movie attempted to focus more on drama rather than grand magical action. As a Harry Potter fan, I know that a person must differentiate books from movies as these films are merely adaptations. The ultimate importance of a film adaptation, I believe, is to keep the essence of the book, and this film does succeed in certain areas (plot points, humor, teenage life) but also comes short in others (character development for the sake of overdoing the romance). There is the defense that this is a movie about teenagers, and thus that is the reason why there is so much focus on the romance. However, one of the most interesting things about the Harry Potter series is the incredibly strong relationships developed and maintained between the characters. So yes, while the movie should focus on some aspects of the characters being teenagers, there is still much character and relational development necessary for other characters to set things up.

    And yes, I do believe that films like these affect the teenage culture immensely. Harry Potter is a huge literary/social phenomenon in society, and the films are always highly anticipated by children, teenagers, and adults. Whether or not people believe that the “real” teenage culture is filled with awkward crushes and fights, this heavy emphasis in the films normalizes such behavior in reality, and allows questionable/uncomfortable choices to be “okay”. It may not seem obvious, but the effects are subtle and occur slowly over time. Just look at how Twilight and numerous other romantic comedies/dramas have affected the romantic ideals and notions of young adults everywhere.

    On a final note — regarding the PG rating, the movie should probably not have been rated PG. I’m still uncertain of why the MPAA rated this movie PG when Order of the Phoenix was PG-13. Half-Blood Prince is clearly darker than Order of the Phoenix.

  • Media Influence said:

    Thanks for the detailed response! Good enough to stand on it’s own as a movie review.

    Glad to know there are others who share the same sentiments: Plot & Character Development was sacrificed for the over-focus on Teenage Melo-Drama. I too wish there was more character development with Tom Riddle \ Lord Voldemort. The only characters as a movie viewer you learn about is Lavender Brown (I suddenly thought of jar jar binks), and Ginny Weasley (only b\c she had such a tiny role in the previous movies). Draco Malfoy seems to be the only one with any weight, yet even there I wish they would have shown more struggle so the viewers could have had a bit more pity for him. Other than the final scene, it wasn’t as clear as it should have that he was struggling with what he was doing.

    And yes the PG rating… I don’t know what to think of the MPAA. The standards has dropped considerably in the last few years.

    – Media Influence

  • cam said:

    The movie was not as good as the previous ones. My main problem with it is the character development (where was it?). With the exception of Draco Malfoy there was only romance that was developed between the characters. I havent read the book so I didnt notice until Tonks called Remus Lupin ‘sweetheart’ that I realised there was obviously some missing information between those two aswell.It wouldnt have been hard to add an extra 2 minutes to explain.
    I was told that in the book there was a big scene at the end which is what they left out of the film. Thats a real shame and majorly affected the plot as one would expect Dumbledore to go out with a big bang and fight. I always viewed Dumbledore as a strong, powerful wizard but the way the moments before he died made him seem weak. It was like he made a mild attempt at defending himself then gave up.
    The romance theme, although humourous at times, began to bore me after a while. It was prolonged for too long when it didnt need to be.
    I think this will definately effect teenage culture. Many of them have grown up watching the harry potter films. They may think that because the characters in the film are subjected to romance and dating that they should aswell.

  • Emily said:

    Great review. I fully agree about the plot and character development. It bugged me so much. I didn’t talk too much about the romance part, because I knew you’d cover it here in this review, but I wrote a little open letter to the movie. As an English teacher, as a lover of a story well-told, I was superbly disappointed. I felt bad that people who have never read the books are getting this kind of representation of what the 6th book is about!!!

    Open Letter to Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince Movie – Youth Koinonia

  • Open Letter to Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (the Movie) | NexGen Koinonia said:

    […] After having met you on Friday, I’ve been doing some thinking about what didn’t sit well with our meeting.  My biggest issue is with the way you allotted the time to certain aspects of the story.  You foregrounded the teenage romance stuff, which I understand is part of the story and is true to the development of the characters, but it’s in truth only a subplot, and a parallel plotline at best.  But the feeling I got after meeting you was that the snog-fest was the whole point.  You focused on the romantic lives of the characters at the expense of developing some crucial elements that would have made you make a lot more sense, especially to people who have not read your book counterpart.  I don’t really want to spend any more talking about this part, because there are other pressing issues, but you can read what someone else has said in this movie review. […]

  • Euripides said:

    I agree with your analysis of the movie and would like to make two points. First, none of these movies’ screenplays were written for anyone other than fans of the book. These are not stand alone movies, but fan movies to satiate the millions who love Harry Potter books. So of course the movies lack certain plot lines or character development because the screenwriters already assume that we have fully developed ideas of who the characters are.

    Second, and this is more telling, Harry Potter himself is a product of the entitlement generation – the generation of children who have everything handed to them on a platter and expect to win all the time. Only with the foil of Dudley, do we get to see someone who feels more entitled than Harry.

    Harry Potter doesn’t really do anything to deserve to win. He’s a mediocre student. He doesn’t solve any problems but rather has their solutions handed to him. For example, in this book/movie, he become brilliant in potions class only because he found the Half Blood Prince’s potions book. Snape’s book demonstrates a thousand times more talent and ability than Harry Potter.

    So, in the end, we wonder what it was that made Harry Potter all that special. If it weren’t for Voldemort’s attempts to kill him, he’d be an otherwise unremarkable boy, wizard skills or no.

  • Media Influence said:

    Hey Euripides,

    Thanks for your comments. Two very good points.

    I also agree that Harry Potter is definitely a product of the entitlement generation. It would be nice if Harry showed a bit of humility with all that he has been given, but so far Harry has acted as if one who is entitled. He sees himself as one that is chosen and takes it upon himself to assert himself or be rebellious against authority simply because he is THE harry potter. (By the way, the scene when he says “but I am the chosen one” and Hermione smacks him… that was my favorite scene, a picture of a true friend who anchors you in reality. Love it).

    It was nice to see how weak and simple harry was in this movie (in the caves compared to dumbledore and his scene with snapes), yet Harry never seems to gain any sense of humility through those experiences or says anything about how much he owes the people around them (esp dumbledore and his 2 companions). I really hope J K Rowling understands the kind of influence she has on our youth culture…

    Media Influence

  • Euripides said:

    “I really hope J K Rowling understands the kind of influence she has on our youth culture…”

    She knows she’s popular and now rich because kids love her books and movies, but I down she understands the social impact.

  • Hazel Charisse said:

    i agree with the author of the review. the fact that it has a very huge gap with the book makes it less enjoyable to watch. people who have read it basically watch the movie to watch the characters come to life. imagine my disappointment when the last part came and there isn’t a battle scene between hogwarts and the death eaters. i mean, Come on! what’s Harry Potter without those black, awful creatures fighting against Dumbledore’s Army and Aurors?

  • Aaron said:

    I cant do anything about it.

    Coz if they did a 4 hour movie or 3,
    it would certainly fill those gaps from the book.

    first the earlier movies, the people are complaining about love and romance…
    now that they put up some romantic scenes people get disappointed.

    anyway,

    I do hope that they will make the next movie longer. like 5 hour final movie.
    so that they can put all what is written in the book, and post it up on the movie.

  • Bugbug said:

    It’s just a book; it’s just a movie. It’s not real. I wish people wouldn’t be so influenced by books and movies. I liked it, but I like some of the other movies better.

  • DeLois said:

    I wish they made the rating PG-13. Then they could’ve added some of the darker stuff in.

    Here’s my theory:
    The moviemakers wanted to reach a broader audience, so they lowered the rating to PG. In order to do this, they had to take out a lot of the really dark scenes. To fill up the space, they put in romance scenes. Therefore, the movie has missing pieces, and the rating is PG. What do you think?

  • Faran Rohani said:

    I reckon the movie was great, and by the way… the person who wrote this really has no clue how we think. These little things that shape our society are good for us. We learn from them, we cannot make the world perfect. Holding all these emotions off will be bad for the future resulting in suicide or depression. So think about the review you are writing, because you are stereotyping everyone. And we are all individuals. We make our choices and i loved the romance theme. i think its suitable for young children and i believe that your review along with all the other reviews dissing the movie are rubbish.

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